Audiovisual effects: What is Timelapse? We’ll tell you about it and also explain how to do it with Photoshop.

timelapse visionarea
Friday, 9 November 2018

Surely you’ve heard of timelapse once, and you’ve even seen videos with this effect, but in this article we want to tell you what it is and also teach you how to do it in a simple way with Photoshop.

What is a video time lapse?

Timelapse is a technique in which with a photo or video camera images are captured in sequences to create a time lapse (timelapse in English). Once this type of video has been made and we put it at a normal speed, time seems to move faster creating a harmonic effect between speed and time.

In short: We are manipulating time with static images.

When making this type of recordings, we can observe the evolution of objects and events that would normally take minutes, days, hours or months to be seen complete until their completion in seconds. The clearest example is that of plants or stars.

Although it is already known that a picture is worth a thousand words, so here you can see a timelapse effect.

Where was timelapse born?

Eadweard Muybridge was a pioneer photographer of the 19th century and is usually mentioned as the first author of this type of image format and what many consider video.

Muybridge (yes, his last name was) set up a system of 24 cameras with a distance of approximately 50 cms connected with a cable between them to generate movement at 24fps, which is the approximate movement of human sight.

The system was activated as the photos were shot, at that time the governor’s horse that was ready for the moment crossed there while it was photographed, causing what is known as the first timelapse in history:


For his part, Arnold Fanck, film director, in 1926 would be one of the pioneers in placing this system in his film The Holy Mountain popularizing this phenomenon.

Although without a doubt, the one who really made known the true force of time lapse was a gentleman who had nothing to do with photography, John Ott.

John was a banker and a plant enthusiast. During his free time he dedicated himself to taking care of them and one day he had an idea, to experiment with them. The film/documentary “Exploring the Spectrum” talks about Ott’s life and work, since based on his experiments he discovered that the movement of plants could be manipulated by varying the amount of water, the temperature and the color of the lights in the studio, making the plants bloom or bear fruit according to the combination of these elements.

With all this in mind, he thought about why not photograph the process from time to time, and then put it all together.

The result can be seen in this small clipping of the documentary.

Today with the technology the time-lapse has become much simpler, but certainly not easy, as it requires patience and some knowledge of photography.  However, we want to help you, at least with the final step.

How do you make a timelapse with Photoshop?

First of all what we need to do is to record TimeLapse itself with a camera that can meet the objectives. A hybrid photo and video reflex camera is recommended, but right now even mid-range phones already have this type of technology or programmable bursts of fire to be able to program.

We have to take into account that we are going to spend a good time shooting photographs so make sure you have a good battery at hand and leaves plenty of space between photo and photo. The recommendation of the type of file format is known as RAW, since it contains as much information as possible and the ability to edit the original file of the image with very professional effects.

Once the post-processing of the image files is done, they must be saved as.jpg in their own folder so that they can be used by Adobe Photoshop. To load our series of photos in Adobe Photoshop we need to select FILE > OPEN and then navigate to the correct folder. Select only the first image in the series and then click on the “Sequence of images” box.

This will open the image series in Adobe Photoshop and a dialog box marked ‘Frame Rate’ will appear. 

In this step what we are doing is selecting the fps we want for the video, always bearing in mind that it must depend on the recording time we have done previously.

It is recommended to make videos at 24 fps as this is what is considered most optimal for the human eye.

Next we will see how in the lower part appears a sequence known as timeline, or timeline, in which we will have all the controls related to the video, including fades and trimming and that we can use to alter the general feeling of our time span if necessary.

Once we have made the modifications to our liking in the timeline of Photoshop we have to export the file in video format. For it we will go to file, export and render or interpret video.

A message similar to this one will appear:

This point is where we say where we want to save the video we have created, its format, quality and size. With all this we select the folder where we want to leave it hosted and proceed to render.

And nothing else. That’s how simple it is to make a timelapse with Adobe Photoshop.

The really interesting and exciting thing about this type of video is the originality, the idea and the recording itself. Now you no longer have an excuse not to record your own timelapse.